As a Jewish woman of many years' standing, as a Jewish wife, as a Jewish mother, I am, according to popular folklore, heiress to many complexes, fixations and obsessions. Most of these accusations are nothing more than petty jealousies expressed by envious parties who do not measure up to Jewish women, Jewish wives and Jewish mothers. Nonetheless, in the period before Yom Kippur, when every Jew is required to stand humbly before his/her Creator and confess the sins of the year gone by, I too have compiled a list...
ANGER: An absolute no-no. Our rabbis say that he who loses his temper is akin to an idol-worshipper. (A thought: They said "he" who loses "his" temper. Are women exempt???)
BIKKUR CHOLIM – Visiting the Sick: How come I never get around to visiting the sick until he or she has usually recovered? There must be a logical explanation. I always have such good intentions....
COPING: I do, pretty well, most of the time. It's the few times I don't that vex me.
COOKING, CREATIVE: I used to, but I don't, not much, anymore. My mother did, a lot. Which doesn't help me much.
DAUGHTERS, TEEN-AGE: Often difficult. Charming, wonderful, lovely, but definitely difficult. Is it my fault??
DISHES, DIRTY, IN THE SINK: Good housekeepers don't have them. I am a good housekeeper. So why...oh, never mind.
DUST, ALL OVER: Where does it all come from? And why doesn't it go back there?
EGO: It's always there, getting in the way.
ENERGY: I'm not so old. Why don't I have more of it?
FRIVOLOUS READING: I know it's waste of time and I know it's stupid and beneath me and I know I could find something better to read if I only tried. But after a long, hard, tiring day, a little frivolous reading is so relaxing.
GOSSIP: I do not gossip. Gossiping is crude and forbidden and good people do not do it. I only discuss. Important things, which really do need discussing. And, of course, in a constructive way. (So why do I feel so guilty after my constructive discussions?)
HANG-UPS: How many have I caused or bequeathed to my poor, unsuspecting kids?
HACHNASAT ORCHIM - Hospitality: I do have guests, despite what my kids say. It's just that they think the house should be Grand Hotel every Shabbat but by the end of the week, I am tired. I'm entitled to a quiet Shabbat once in a while, am I not?
IRONING: It just so happens that I enjoy ironing. But I don't say so out loud. It makes for enemies. Like when I mention that I iron my husband's and sons' shirts. All of them; every week. Some women don't. For shame. (So I'm feeling a little superior...so what?)
JEWELRY: I know that jewelry is superficial, vain and silly - mere playthings for women who are not really serious about life. (So who says you have to be serious all the time?)
KAVANA – Performing a commandment with the proper intentions : How is one supposed to pray with kavana when the phone keeps ringing and people keep coming to the door to sell you something? Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to give up altogether. Or maybe I should go to the early minyan with my husband. (Do they pray with more kavanah in the synagogue?)
LEARNING, MY HUSBAND'S: How many more hours a week could he study Torah if I let him, and how come I don't?
MENUS: How long can one keep making the same food? I must get some new recipes before the family turns into a tuna casserole.
MONEY: There's no keeping up with the Cohen's in our house. Which is why I don't understand what all the fuss was about when I merely suggested buying a new dining room set.
NOISE & NEIGHBORS: It is extremely difficult to love your neighbors when their kids come equipped with automatic sound effects and exceedingly loud noise accessories.
NUDGING: An activity I am often engaged in. I'd love to stop. Any suggestions towards attaining this goal will be greatly appreciated.
OVEN: One of my recurring dreams used to be that the inside of mine was spotlessly clean. So I bought one that does the job. All by itself. Am I superfluous now?
PATIENCE: It is a virtue. Yes indeed. Pity it takes so long to develop it!
PESACH: I admit it. I gave up by the time I reached the last cabinet in the kitchen. I cleaned it, but not with the same zest and zeal that I cleaned the first thousand cabinets, drawers and shelves. So now I'm left with eight days of wondering: Is all the chametz really out??? Is it really, truly a clean Pesach cabinet, worthy of receiving my Pesach dishes?
QUARRELING: It really never pays and chances are you'll land up being in the wrong. (Sometimes, even when you're right, you're wrong.) So why not put a stop to it before it starts?
RESTING: An activity I find extremely therapeutic at all times. So why do I always feel as though I am wasting time, when what I am actually doing is gathering energy?
REHASHING: As in arguments. Very bad habit. If you didn't make your point the first time round, chances are you won't make it the second round either. So quit while you're ahead.
SHEURIM – Torah Classes: There are so many around. Everyone goes. I should go too.
SHOPPING: Wouldn't it be nice if we could shorten the time necessary for shopping each week and use the free time for walking in the park? I know shopping is necessary and all that, but walking in the park is so much more enjoyable...
SILLY SHOPPING: As opposed to the above, it is not necessary, and it's so much more fun. I wonder why the things that are fun are so rarely necessary and the things that are necessary are so rarely fun.
SINGLE SOCKS: Where do they all come from? I'm positive they all had partners when they entered the washing machine.
TALKING: I wish I did less. It often gets me into trouble. I also get tired of hearing myself. Which makes me wonder what the rest of my family and friends are thinking.
TIME: If only I had more of it and used what I had more constructively!
TZEDAKAH - Charity: I give conscientiously, almost all the time. So why do I still feel that I'm not giving enough?
UPS & DOWNS: My emotional states. Life would be much easier if I regulated my U's & P's more successfully.
VANITY: Generally and unjustly ascribed to women. But men are just as vain, and anyway, isn't it a mitzva for a woman to keep herself attractive for her husband? It's not her fault if other people happen to see her too.
WEIGHT, ADDITIONAL AND UNWANTED: If G-d wanted all women to be skinny, He'd have made them that way. Besides, a mature women shouldn't look like a scarecrow. Right?
X: The world's sign for a kiss. Why did I insist that my five-year-old go to sleep without that last kiss he wanted? So what if it was the seventh one he asked for? Maybe he just needed more loving.
YELLING: Civilized, intelligent people do not yell. They do not lose their temper or their cool or their control. Yelling is futile. It is damaging to the yeller and the "yellee". As a civilized, intelligent person, I do not yell. I only raise my voice because the people I am speaking to are not listening.
Now if I could only correct and eliminate a few of the items on this list, I have no doubt that my standing on the Divine Scale would vastly improve. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
The Jewish Woman's Guilt Chart is based on an article in the book "All Things Considered" by Yaffa Ganz, published by Mesorah Publications Ltd.